In the Mad Men television series, Harry Crane of Sterling Cooper helps out Paul Kinsey, a former colleague. Kinsey lost his copywriting position at the agency and went on to successively fail at McCann, Y&R, K&E, and B&B before going in-house at grocer A&P. When that didn’t work out he joined the Hare Krishna.
Crane is largely an unsympathetic person but he shows empathy for Kinsey. Crane says to Peggy Olson, “Don’t you know how lucky we are?” Crane cannot believe his own good fortune in the agency world. This episode and much of the series examines those in advertising who make it and those who do not. Mad Men beats up the profession while simultaneously aggrandizing the ad world.
The show profiled tensions and issues that persist to this day. A big one is employee morale. CampaignUS recently shone the light on growing unhappiness. On October 24, 2016 they published their 2nd Annual Morale Survey.
It found that nearly half of agency employees suffer from poor morale. Forty-seven percent of employees rated their morale as either “low” (31%) or “dangerously low” (16%). That is up 36% from the previous year. As alarming is the fact that 63% of those claiming poor morale were actively job-hunting. One assumes that means not switching to another agency.
On the same day (a cool coincidence) Advertising Age published an article titled, These Are the 50 Companies Creatives Would ‘Kill to Work for Full Time’. It covered the survey conducted by Working Not Working. Twenty-four of the fifty companies identified were not agencies.
Creative folks would much rather be at Vice, Spotify, Tesla, National Geographic, or Nike over McCann, JWT, Leo Burnett, Y&R, or Ogilvy.